American car manufacturer General Motors, resurrected by a government bailout after going broke, is recalling 1.3 million cars in North America because of a power steering problem, which has been linked to more than a dozen crashes. Four models were affected – the Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Pursuit and Pontiac 4.
The company said the fault meant that at low speeds “greater steering effort may be required”, but that the cars could still be “safely controlled”.
General Motors was quick to blame the fault on a supplier partially owned by the Japanese car giant Toyota. GM’s vice-chairman Bob Lutz told the BBC at the Geneva Motor show: “This is a case where, yes, we would blame a partially Toyota-owned supplier.” Lutz said the supplier had not met “all requirements for reliability and durability”.
“So we will have to see who takes financial responsibility,” he said. “But this is a risk you sometimes take when you buy a complete system from a supplier.”
Here is a US firm that almost died because it made poor quality, very inefficient and expensive cars for decades and was then resurrected by the federal government. Within months, GM is claiming to be the champion of quality and blaming Toyota. Is it an act of revenge or part of America’s economic war against Japan?
We should bear in mind that the new government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, wants to loosen its alliance with Washington. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama advocates a policy of detachment from America and its foreign conflicts, while repairing relations with neighboring countries. In January, for example, Japan ended its naval refueling mission in the Indian Ocean that had supported the US-led war in Afghanistan since 2001.